A certificate is earned by a student after taking a series of courses in a particular subject. Students often earn certificates to get a step ahead in the professional field of their interest, and certificates may be offered in similar programs leading to degrees. For instance, there are certificates in business, literature and technical fields. In some technical programs, a certificate may be required.
There are also graduate certificates, often taken either alone or alongside a graduate degree program. In some programs, the student may use his or her electives to fulfill a certificate in order to make him or herself more desirable to a potential employer.